Recapturing the Heart of Paris Through Its Belly
In its heyday, Les Halles was "teeming with food markets and slaughterhouses renowned since the Middle Ages for its stench, infamy and authenticity"--before it was torn down in 1970's and replaced by "a gargantuan sprawl of rail networks, underground shopping mall, a swimming pool, cinemas, shops, gardens, terraces and pavilions." A public-private consortium in Paris is focusing on reclaiming the area, which is now characterized by outdated facades, traffic congestion, crime-ridden parks and water-damaged buildings, or what the mayor calls a "soulless architecturally bombastic concrete jungle." The redevelopment of Les Halles comes at a time when the city is in the midst of revamping its urban planning strategy, as well as vying for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Thanks to Connie Chung